Oscar Pistorius prosecutor cou

Oscar Pistorius prosecutor could be investigated for calling him a liar

Gerrie Nel has repeatedly called Oscar Pistorius a liar during his cross-examination and now the South Africa Human Rights Commission has received a complaint to be investigated.

Oscar Pistorius prosecutor cou

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) may investigate the legality and fairness of prosecutor Gerrie Nel’s cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius after receiving a complaint.

The SAHRC received a complaint on Friday asking that they investigate and rule on whether Nel is allowed to call Pistorius a liar as he cross-examines him.

The complainant, Jan Landman, formerly of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, claimed that calling Pistorius a liar infringed on his right to a fair trial and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

He added that it contravened Pistorius’s right to freedom of expression and dignity.

He said: “It is in the public interest that the Human Rights Commission as a matter of urgency should investigate to what extent the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of SA (Chapter 2) is contravened.”

SAHRC spokesman Isaac Mangena said, “We have acknowledged and asked the complainant to lodge a formal complaint by filling out a form. We will then assess the complaint as per our complaints handling procedure to [decide] whether it is something for the commission to investigate or not.”

Nel repeatedly called Pistorius a “liar” this week while he was on the witness stand giving evidence in the trial of his murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

He only stopped when Judge Masipa eventually told him to mind his language on Friday morning. She said: “You don’t call the witness a liar, not while he is in the witness box.”

Gerrie Nel has in fact done it before, most notably when he called the former national police commissioner and Interpol boss Jackie Selebi an “arrogant liar” during cross-examination in another high-profile case.

The BBC’s Pumza Fihlani notes that it is at the judge’s discretion whether such accusations may be permitted in court.

Many believe that it is more sophisticated to cast doubt on the witness’s statements without directly calling them names, which Nel has also done by discussing Pistorius’s “tailoring” of different versions of his story.